Eveline and Clay

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The stories Eveline and Clay could conceivably be seen as the trajectory of a single life: perhaps this link is underscored by common references to Balfe’s Bohemian Girl.

In Eveline the eponymous character plans to escape from a claustrophobic background and tyrannical father by eloping with Frank, a sailor with “tales of distant countries”, who had taken her to see Balfe’s Bohemian Girl. In the end Eveline balks at the elopement, paralysed by fear: “She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal.her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition”.

Maria, the timid and retiring main character of Clay is middle-aged and unmarried. At the end of a Hallowe’en party she sings I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls from Balfe’s Bohemian girl. Poignantly, she leaves out the second verse, which speaks of suitors seeking her hand and knights on bended knee: marriage is nowhere on the horizon for Maria.

'I Dreamt that I dwelt in Marble Halls' from The Bohemian Girl

‘I Dreamt that I dwelt in Marble Halls’ from The Bohemian Girl

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